Employers have a lot to learn about Generation Z as these digital natives enter the workforce and plan out their careers. 

If organizations want to hire and retain the best young talent, understanding them and their values give employers an edge to keeping them happy, engaged and growing.

For starters, data shows Gen Z (defined as people born between 1996 and 2010) workers may not be easy to retain. In a recent survey of 1,000 Gen Zers, conducted by Nintex, a process automation platform,  1 in 3 Gen Zers expect to leave a company before their one-year anniversary. Yet, 40% of 500 decision-makers also surveyed expect Gen Z to stay with their companies for two to four years. 

Understanding Gen Zers Better

Since Gen Zers are accustomed to modern, sophisticated devices, they may not have the patience for complex workplace technologies and systems that require weeks of training. They'll likely demand higher-quality tech and may not push back on tech upgrades as much as older employees.

"Investing in technology will increase engagement with the Gen Z population," according to Terry Simpson, technical evangelist at Nintex. "In the past, new technology implementations were met with a lot of change and resistance. Gen Z employees tend to embrace this type of change and new technology with enthusiasm."

Gen Zers also came of age in a time when mental health concerns were largely destigmatized. As a result, many Gen Zers are comfortable discussing their emotional health and asking for help to manage it. They enter the workplace expecting employers to consider their emotional well-being as part of the employee experience. 

"There's a potential 50-year age difference between Gen Z and baby boomer employees," said Shane Metcalf, chief culture officer at 15Five, a performance management software company. "This contributes to the comfort gap in discussing mental and emotional health in the workplace, which is extremely important to Gen Z employees. The lack of freedom to discuss mental and emotional health is damaging to Gen Z employees' discussions with their managers."

How do employers retain Gen Z talent?

Gen Z requires a different approach than other generations in the workplace. But with 65 million Gen Zers in the U.S., employers have a vested interest in keeping them happy as they enter the workplace.

Here are three key components to engaging and retaining Gen Z workers.

1. Establish regular check-ins.

Data shows that Gen Zers crave face time with their managers to reconnect and reset. Nine out of 10 Gen Zers want frequent, face-to-face meetings with their managers. Weekly check-ins are Gen Zers' preferred cadence, according to Nintex data.

2. Make a point to discuss emotional well-being.

15Five surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers and 500 U.S. managers earlier this year and according to their data, 90% of employees admit to performing better when their companies support their emotional wellness. But only 40% of managers make a point to ask about emotional wellness in one-on-ones.

While past generations may have steered clear of emotional well-being topics at the office, Gen Zers approach the topic without fear. Additionally, 73% of Gen Zers take advantage of their organizations' employee assistance programs; only 24% of baby boomers do the same.

3. Invest in robust tech tools with a strong UX.

Gen Zers will keep IT departments on their toes. As digital natives, they have high expectations for the technology they use at work. Not all work tools have a simple and stellar UX, and Gen Zers may get frustrated and find ways to work around certain tools. In fact, 4 out of 5 Gen Zers said they're willing to go against their companies' app policies if they believe their preference will work better.

Diverse life experiences inevitably produce generational differences in the workplace. When leaders fail to make an effort to understand and embrace Gen Z's unique characteristics, they will find challenging roads ahead.

Published on: Oct 26, 2019
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